The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is increasingly more pro-employee under the Obama administration, is suing American Medical Response (AMR) of Connecticut for firing an employee over remarks she posted on her Facebook page.
Annemarie Souza, an emergency medical technician, was sacked after an incident in which a supervisor asked her to respond to a customer complaint but refused to let Ms. Souza consult with a union representative about the matter. She thereafter made disparaging remarks about the supervisor on Facebook and was terminated.
The NLRB is contending that her comments on Facebook amount to protected union rights conferencing with fellow employees.
Thus the social media may now become the new company water cooler, where organizing and collective bargaining talk is protected.
"For the NLRB to step in is a major issue," says Nate White, a consultant with the Ethical Leadership Group at Global Compliance, based in Charlotte, N.C. "The fact is, though, I don’t think this turns anything upside down because I don’t think anyone knows what is right side up when it comes to social media.
"Companies are still fairly blind about the issue and employees too," he says. "Employers should pay close attention to this case because it signals a change.